Urbano is a stylish cafe and restaurant on the corner of Fenton St and Grey St in the heart of Rotorua's "motel mile" which has a reputation among locals as being a classy establishment serving among the finest food Rotorua has to offer.
But the restaurant is far from stuffy and snobby. Its owners, Richard and Julie Sewell, are old hands at making customers feel special and at home.
The Sewells are restaurant royalty in Rotorua having been in the trade for more than three decades (former owners of Herb's Place on Eat Streat) and following the legacy left by Richard's parents, Herb and Annette Sewell, who both died in the past year.
While some local eateries have just come through a tough winter, the Sewells say their July was the second biggest month they have had since opening just over seven years ago.
It's no wonder they are the 2013 Rotorua Hospitality Awards Outstanding Restaurant winners.
The food ranges from all your early morning caffeine hits (opens 9am seven days a week), breakfast, lunches and dinner (except Sunday nights, closing at 3pm). The style is described as "cafe by day, restaurant by night" and is informal bistro with modern contemporary cuisine.
The varied dinner menu is a pleasant surprise for such a swanky restaurant - offering everything from a gourmet burger to duck confit leg and prices range from $25.50 to $42.90.
To kick things off, my friend and I order an entree to share - the pan seared scallops ($23). It sets the standard of what is to come.
I've decided to try the eye fillet wrapped in bacon, coffee rubbed with king prawn, romesco sauce, sauteed spinach and mushrooms, smoked gouda kuka potato and baby vegetables ($42).
My friend orders their 2014 Monteith's Wild Food Challenge success - the chilli kelp dusted wild venison tenderloin, kumara mash, smoked feta, balsamic and raspberry glaze, caramelised onion rocket salad, mushroom soil with winter vegetables and black beer jelly.
Feeling extra hungry for our greens, we order sides of vegetables ($7.90) and, at the waitress' suggestion, the wild rocket salad with fresh pear, blue cheese, spicy pecan and balsamic dressing ($7.90).
This meal is without a doubt the best I've eaten. My friend and I are trying not to gush, but the meals are stunningly presented and taste out of this world. We can't decide what is the best - the perfectly cooked meat, the explosions of flavours in the sauces and flavourings or simply the pecans in the rocket salad.
The service is exceptional. If any restaurant is looking to "raise the bar", go to Urbano to see how it's done. I'm asked before ordering if I have any special diet requirements (being obviously pregnant) and am given a gorgeous mix of freshly squeezed juices. My friend is recommended the specialty pinot noir.
We are impressed a second waitress knew our drink orders without asking. The wait staff are clear, concise and knowledgeable and swiftly ask if everything is okay after each course is started.
Overall Urbano is an experience that is well worth the money. While it might have a reputation as being "pricey", that's far from reality.
There are cheaper items and the most expensive is far from over the top and worth every cent. The excellent lighting in the ladies' loos for "selfies" is a bonus.